Animals to be recognised as sentient beings in landmark UK law

12 May 2021, 07:18

Animals would be recognised as sentient beings under a landmark new law
Animals would be recognised as sentient beings under a landmark new law. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Animals would be recognised as sentient beings under a landmark new law aiming to help domesticated and wild creatures in the UK and abroad.

The Animal Sentience Bill will be introduced to Parliament on Thursday, which officials said would put animal welfare at the heart of Government policy decision making, and further legislation will follow.

As part of the push to protect animals, the bill will look at rules to tackle puppy smuggling, make keeping primates as pets illegal and ban imports of hunting trophies

The action plan for animal welfare includes stopping ads in the UK for things such as elephant rides abroad and exploring a ban on foie gras.

The plan is a mixture of new measures, confirmation of manifesto commitments and moves that have been consulted on and will now be introduced, or ones that have been previously attempted.

Announcing the plan at a trip to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the UK was a nation of animal lovers, and the new measures would build on existing high standards.
Announcing the plan at a trip to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the UK was a nation of animal lovers, and the new measures would build on existing high standards. Picture: PA

Announcing the plan at a trip to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home in London, Environment Secretary George Eustice said the UK was a nation of animal lovers, and the new measures would build on existing high standards.

Animal welfare campaigners welcomed the moves in the action plan, and urged the Government to make it "just the beginning" of an evolving, holistic animal health and welfare strategy.

The action plan includes measures to improve welfare for pets by tackling puppy smuggling through changes to import rules, introducing compulsory microchipping for cats, cracking down on pet theft through a new government taskforce and a new attempt to ban remote controlled training e-collars.

It aims to protect wild animals by making it illegal to keep primates as pets, introducing new laws to crack down on illegal hare coursing, supporting legislation to restrict the use of glue traps, and funding wildlife conservation projects at home and abroad.

Measures to protect animals abroad include banning the import of hunting trophies from endangered animals, and the sale of ivory by implementing the Ivory Act this year, and prohibiting the import and export of detached shark fins to protect sharks.

It aims to protect wild animals by making it illegal to keep primates as pets
It aims to protect wild animals by making it illegal to keep primates as pets. Picture: PA

Officials also said the Government would explore a ban on the sale of foie gras, and would work with the devolved administrations to ban advertisements across the UK for "unacceptable" low-welfare animal practices abroad, such as elephant rides.

And there are measures aimed at improving welfare for farm animals, including ending the export of live animals for fattening and slaughter and introducing new measures to improve welfare during transport.

There are also plans to give the police more powers to protect farm animals from dangerous or out of control dogs, examining the use of cages for poultry and farrowing crates for pigs and improving animal welfare at slaughter.

The action plan confirms moves to incentivise farmers to improve animal health and welfare as part of the farming policy being drawn up now the UK is no longer part of the EU.

Launching the plan, Environment Secretary George Eustice said: "We are a nation of animal lovers and were the first country in the world to pass animal welfare laws.

"Our action plan for animal welfare will deliver on our manifesto commitment to ban the export of live animal exports for slaughter and fattening, prohibit keeping primates as pets and bring in new laws to tackle puppy smuggling.

"We will lead on the protection of animals abroad by implementing the world's toughest ivory ban and banning the import of hunting trophies to protect iconic species."

Chris Sherwood, chief executive of the RSPCA, said: "These announcements will make a real and lasting difference to animals' welfare, so we're pleased the Government is committed to improving animals' lives in the UK and abroad.

"We can no longer ignore the inextricable link that exists between the way we treat animals, our own health and that of the planet - but to really achieve a step change, it will take courage from right across Government.

"We urge the Government to put animal welfare at the heart of policy making and make these announcements just the beginning of an evolving, holistic animal health and welfare strategy."

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

Pictures of the Week Global Photo Gallery

Iran fires air defence batteries at two sites after drones spotted

Israel strikes back at Iran: Explosions heard and airspace closed as revenge attack launched

Israel strikes back at Iran: Explosions heard following revenge attack - days after Tehran's drone assault

India Election Narendra Modi

India starts voting as Narendra Modi seeks third term as prime minister

Rishi Sunak is to call for an end to the "sick note culture".

End of the 'sick note': Rishi Sunak to stop GPs signing people off work in welfare scheme overhaul

Andrew Malkinson

'Too little, too late': Andrew Malkinson rejects Criminal Cases Review Commission's apology after being wrongly jailed

Argentina NATO

Argentina asks to join Nato as President Milei seeks more prominent role

An officer threatened to arrest the man for 'breaching the peace'

Shocking moment Met police officer threatens to arrest man for being 'quite openly Jewish' at pro-Palestine march

Israel Palestinians UN Security Council

US vetoes widely supported UN resolution backing full membership for Palestine

Trump Hush Money

Twelve jurors confirmed for Trump hush money trial

Exclusive
Jonathan Hall KC admitted refugees have previously been let into the UK without the full checks.

Refugees have been admitted to UK ‘without proper checks’ as Border Force is 'too overwhelmed’, terror watchdog says

Jeremy Clarkson was seen comforting his girlfriend, Lisa Hogan, after tragedy stuck Diddly Squat Farm when two piglets died in an emotional scene captured on an episode of Clarkson's Farm

Jeremy Clarkson comforts sobbing girlfriend after tragedy strikes Diddly Squat Farm in new series

Lord Nick Houghton speaks to LBC’s Andrew Marr.

Ukraine 'is fighting proxy war on behalf of Nato', says ex-military chief as he criticises 'incoherent' defence spending

Peter Murrell has been charged in connection with the embezzlement of funds from the Scottish National Party.

Nicola Sturgeon's husband Peter Murrell charged in connection with embezzlement of funds from SNP

Kenya’s military chief General Francis Ogolla

Kenya’s military chief dies in helicopter crash

Sydney Sweeney hit back at the comments about her.

Sydney Sweeney hits back at 'sad and shameful' producer who said she ‘can’t act’ and ‘isn’t pretty’

Exclusive
Jonathan Hall has hit out at WhatsApp over the lowering of the age limit.

UK’s terror watchdog hits out at WhatsApp over lowering of age limit as he says more kids are being radicalised online